NASCAR champions Martin Truex Jr. and Furniture Row Racing geared up for more right turns

NASCAR’s defending champions are on a roll, making right and left turns better than anyone.

As good as they were last year, Denver-based Furniture Row Racing and driver Martin Truex Jr. have more wins and top-five finishes than at this time last year, and they have another winding road-course race to feast on during the 2018 playoffs.

After winning Sunday’s road-course race in Sonoma, Calif., Truex has three wins on the season and consecutive triumphs on road courses dating to last year. He won the 2017 road-course race at Watkins Glen, N.Y., a couple of months after having a dominant car at Sonoma but retiring with a blown engine after leading a race-high 24 laps.

“Honestly, it could be three in a row — going back last year to Sonoma, if we didn’t have engine failure,” crew chief Cole Pearn said from the team’s northeast Denver race shop. “It’s been a strong suit for us. Hopefully we can keep it going at The Glen (Aug. 5). And now we’ve got another one in Charlotte.”

Indeed, NASCAR has introduced a third road-course race this season — Sept. 30 on the grounds of Charlotte Motor Speedway — and it marks the third race of the 10-race playoffs. NASCAR will utilize the speedway’s 1.5-mile oval and its infield to make right and left turns.

Pearn and Truex — who have combined for 16 of FRR’s 17 career wins — are an excellent road-course tandem. Pearn grew up racing in his native Ontario, Canada, often competing at the Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in Bowmanville. He also raced in side series for the Molson Indy Toronto and Molson Indy Vancouver.

“I grew up more on the road courses with go-karts and stuff, and then when I got into stock cars and stuff, we ran on road courses a few times a year,” Pearn said. “But I don’t know if that translates or anything. It’s about being around good people. Sonoma comes down to Martin a lot, too. He’s one of those guys who has it figured out. He knows what he needs.”

Overall, Truex and the No. 78 Toyota are fifth in the standings on the strength of 10 top-five results in 16 races. Truex’s three wins rank third behind points leader Kyle Busch (four) and second-place Kevin Harvick (five). Last year, Truex didn’t get his third win of the season until the 18th race.

Martin Truex Jr., driver of the ...

Sean Gardner, Getty Images

Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 5-hour ENERGY/Bass Pro Shops Toyota, races during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on June 24, 2018 in Sonoma, California.

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